Motorola RAZR Android phone

Motorola RAZR review: The RAZR is back and it's thinner than ever

Motorola RAZR
  • Motorola RAZR
  • Motorola RAZR
  • Motorola RAZR
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Fantastic 4.3in display
  • Excellent performance and slick software
  • Included Motorola apps add value

Cons

  • Large size is uncomfortable to hold
  • Feels top heavy due to "bump" design
  • Non-removable battery

Bottom Line

If you can live with its large size and sometimes awkward feel, the Motorola RAZR is one of the best Android smartphones released this year. It combines a brilliant and vibrant screen in a unique frame, and tops off the package with slick and intuitive software that aids the user experience.

Would you buy this?

Motorola RAZR: Software and performance

The Motorola RAZR runs the 2.3 "Gingerbread" version of Google's Android software and the company has promised an upgrade to the latest 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" version early in 2012. However, the main software focus is on Motorola's UI overlay, previously called MotoBlur. It's been refined and improved on the RAZR and most of the changes are positive.

Motorola's Motoblur service is no longer mandatory. That means when you first turn on the RAZR, you aren't forced to create a Motorola account (this time called a Motocast account) to use the phone. In addition, Motorola has scaled down the amount of customisation it has made to the standard Android interface. It still uses many of its own icons and widgets but they generally look attractive and don't clutter the interface. Some of the best Motorola widgets include a "favourite contacts" that lets you swipe down on it to show up to 20 contacts with an image, and toggles for settings like airplane mode, Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi. The Motorola widgets are resizable and handy guide markers appear on the screen when you're moving the widgets around. Unlike some previous Motorola smartphones, the RAZR is fast and responsive straight out of the box: apps load almost instantly, we didn't experience any crashes and everything runs smoothly.

Widgets aside, the Motorola RAZR also has a number of other handy software features. You can swipe to the left on the lock screen to jump immediately into the camera app, and swipe up on a small switch on the same screen to put the phone on silent mode. The camera app is both slick and fast, with minimal time between photos if you are quick on the shutter button. You can also use the external volume keys as zoom buttons, but there is no physical shutter key. Images captured with the camera produce good detail but do suffer from some image noise and can often appear washed out. The camera doubles as a full HD 1080p video recorder and the quality is excellent for a phone.

We liked the RAZR's Motocast application, a pre-loaded Motorola app that allows the streaming of multimedia content (music, videos, images and documents) from a PC or Mac. Unlike many other Cloud services, you don't need to move the files you want to access on your computer to the Motocast application: you simply need to select the folders and files you want the service to access.

The Motorola RAZR also includes the Smart Actions app, which incorporates both battery saving features and automated task settings. Though neither of these features is new (many third party apps on the Android Market provide similar features) the app is well implemented and reasonably easy to use. As an example you can set up an action that will automatically play music when you plug in your headphones, automatically set your phone to silent when you nominate a location as a "quiet location" and even turn on Wi-Fi and turn off Bluetooth (or adjust a wealth of other settings) when you get to the office, or arrive home. The app uses a combination of location based and user nominated settings to automate tasks and you can create and activate as many as you like.

The Motorola RAZR is initially exclusive to Optus so naturally comes with plenty of shortcuts to Optus services. There are no less than 14 Optus apps, most of them shortcuts to services like Smart Safe, SocialView and the Optus App Store. You can't uninstall or completely remove the shortcuts, but you can hide them by pressing and holding on an app icon and selecting "hide". It's worth noting that the RAZR is a quad-band 3G device, which means it will work on all Australian networks including Telstra's 850MHz Next G network and the 2100MHz and 900MHz networks used by Optus and Vodafone.

Motorola RAZR: Battery life and availability

The Motorola RAZR has a non-removable 1780mAh battery, which should be enough to last most users a full day. During testing, it didn't die before the end of the day, except if we made a point of watching YouTube videos — one of the biggest battery drainers on an Android phone. Obviously the RAZR's battery life will depend on your usage pattern but the device should last a full day.

The Motorola RAZR is available exclusively through Optus in Australia for $0 upfront on the $59 cap plan over 24 months. The Optus $59 cap includes $750 worth of calls, unlimited SMS messages, 2GB of data and unlimited access within Australia to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, eBay and Foursquare services. Optus also sells the RAZR for $0 on a $79 cap over 24 months with a range of accessories including a HD Multimedia Dock, an extra power supply, a HDMI cable, a Motorola Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, a car cradle and car mount, a 3.5mm cable and an in-car charger.

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